Society must do away with its misplaced view on cancer, says oncologist

16 Sep 2019 / 14:06 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Society must overcome the misplaced notion that if diagnosed with cancer then that is the end of the road for anyone, because there is always hope as long as one chooses to treat the condition, says oncologist Dr Ros Suzanna Ahmad Bustaman.

Having said that, the head of the Hospital Kuala Lumpur Radiotherapy & Oncology Department says it is also bewildering to note of the hurdles faced by cancer patients, with some restrained by their own family members from seeking professional help or resorting to dubious treatment methods.

“From my personal experience, once, a husband refused his wife who has been diagnosed with breast cancer to undergo surgery. This is terrifying and the public must be constantly reminded of how bad it would be for the society if this scenario persists.

“Sadly the number of breast cancer cases in Malaysia is increasing year-by-year as the population increases and sadly there are still a lot of patients who refuse to seek help as they are in denial and could not accept the fact they actually have cancer,“ she told Bernama.

According to Global Cancer Statistics 2018 (GLOBOCAN 2018), an online database that provides estimates of incidence and mortality in 185 countries for 36 types of cancer, the highest number of cancer cases reported in Malaysia is breast cancer with 7, 593 cases reported in 2018, making it the number one threat to Malaysian women.

Dr Ros explains 40% of breast cancer patients only realise that they have cancer when it has already reached stage three and four.

“Stage four is the most critical stage where cancer has spread to other parts of your body, thus, to boost the awareness on early detection of breast cancer HKL has collaborated with Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to organise KL Pink Project from May 4 until October 5 this year and we have been continuing with this project annually since 2016.

So far, almost 700 women have gone through screening through the KL Pink Project and we detected one positive for breast cancer. We would also give necessary treatment to those diagnosed with breast cancer, especially for the lower socioeconomic group,“ she says adding that this year’s KL Pink Project has set its target on 10 Peoples’ Housing Project (PPR) in the city.

Admitting that the awareness level on cancer among Malaysians is not at par with the developed countries, Dr Ros wishes that breast cancer screening is not merely a once-a-year message that hits home for Pink October or when any of the family members gets cancer.

“We need to empower women to do breast self-exam and learn it from now on, it is advised for teenagers to learn this once they experience their first period,“ she said hoping that the public is aware of this hopeful message that could bring an impactful change to the public. — Bernama

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